Knowing surgery terms: plastic, reconstructive, cosmetic

Posted by Monarch Plastic Surgery

Jul 6, 2016 8:00:00 AM

difference between plastic and cosmetic surgeryWhen searching the Web or local yellow pages for clinics that specialize in cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, breast augmentation, and tummy tuck surgery, you’ll come across clinics that offer “plastic” surgery and “cosmetic” surgery, as well as those that offer “reconstructive” surgery.

While these terms may seem synonymous, they’re actually not, and it’s important to know the difference so you can make an educated decision when it comes to choosing a qualified surgeon.

Here’s a close, in-depth look at the difference between plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery, and reconstructive surgery, and what to take into consideration before choosing a specific surgeon or clinic.

Plastic surgery vs. cosmetic surgery


The key difference between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery is the type and length of training undergone by the surgeon.

Plastic surgeons often undergo rigorous training in all types of surgeries for at least three years following medical school, followed by three years of training that focus specifically on cosmetic procedures, such as breast surgery (breast lift, breast augmentation), body contouring (liposuction, tummy tuck), and facial rejuvenation (rhinoplasty, facelift).

Cosmetic surgeons, on the other hand, usually already belong to specific medical specialties, and have decided to extend training to include cosmetic procedures. These surgeons may be dermatologists, family physicians, or gynecologists. Additional training for these surgeons can range from one year to several years, depending on the types of cosmetic procedures they want to learn.

Simply put, if you want a cosmetic procedure such as breast augmentation or liposuction, you can generally choose either a plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon: the main difference lies in the type of training your surgeon has had.

Reconstructive surgery


Reconstructive surgery is a type of surgery usually performed to help improve congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, and physical abnormalities caused by disease, tumors, trauma, or infection. In most cases, reconstructive surgery is the aesthetic enhancement of one or more body structures to improve a person’s physical appearance.

Breast reconstruction is a popular procedure among women who have had their breasts removed due to breast cancer, while hand surgery helps treat patients with birth defects of the hand or severe hand injuries. In some instances, breast reduction is considered a type of reconstructive surgery, especially when large breasts lead to back and neck pain, skeletal deformities, and other major health problems.

When choosing a plastic or cosmetic surgeon, don’t hesitate to ask about a surgeon’s training and credentials. This helps provide insight into whether a particular surgeon is experienced in the cosmetic or reconstructive procedure you desire to help you look and feel better about your physical appearance.

Monarch Plastic Surgery is home to a team of surgeons that specialize in cosmetic, plastic, and reconstructive surgeries. Request a consultation to learn more about our variety of cosmetic surgery and minimally invasive procedures that can help you look and feel more beautiful.

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Topics: Reconstructive surgery, Plastic surgery, Cosmetic Surgery

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